Separatists in Luhansk oblast have officially announced that 96 percent of eligible voters approved the referendum on independence (See: Ukrainska Pravda). According to the KyivPost election update, separatist officials are reporting 89 percent for seceding and 10 percent against in Donetsk Oblast. Donetsk and Luhansk make up the lion’s share of the contested Donbass region. East Ukraine separatists are celebrating what they claim is a huge electoral victory in the May 11 referendum. These Crimean-scale election results are pure falsification. I report here more believable results that show one third the turnout of the separatist claims and confirm earlier polling data that show 70 percent of East Ukrainians want to keep a united Ukraine. As Moscow eagerly accepted as gospel truth the referendum results, the Western media reacted with confusion. German television news led with “a majority voted clearly in the referendum for separation.”
The Wall Street Journal (See Vote in Ukraine Emboldens Separatists) points out the unclarity of the referendum question and its chaotic (and illegal) circumstances, but concludes that the “long waits at some voting stations helped turn simmering anger against Kiev into open defiance.” The New York Times (See:Chaos Marks Ukraine Vote on Separation) reports large crowds and a festive atmosphere at polling stations, while expressing doubts about the election process.
The general Western media takeaway is that, indeed, large numbers of disaffected voters stood in long lines to vote in favor of “independence,” while pointing out the chaotic atmosphere and warning of the opportunities for massive voter fraud.
No major media outlet has dug into the Crimean-like election results – 89 to 96 percent in favor, despite a Pew survey taken shortly before the referendum (See the Pew Foundation, Despite Concerns about Governance, Ukrainians Want to Remain One Country) showing that less than 20 percent of east Ukrainians favor secession and 70 percent want a united Ukraine. The chasm between the result predicted in a fair election and the 90 percent plus reported vote should raise serious eyebrows.